Calgary students, faculty voice provincial mandate concerns
Students and faculty at the University of Calgary fired questions at the school's decision makers Wednesday about how the province's mandate to overhaul post-secondary education in Alberta will affect their future.
Programs are under review to reduce duplication in post-secondary institutions across the province, and to determine if they are in demand by employers and meeting enrolment quotas.
Advanced Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk sent out five-page mandate letters to universities, colleges and technical schools last week. The letters outlined the province's expectations of post-secondary schools, and asked them to work together in streamlining advanced education in Alberta.
U of C president Elizabeth Cannon was on hand at the meeting Wednesday to address concerns. She says changes are necessary and are coming.
"We have to be very careful as we move forward," she said.
The university has a list of 55 programs that have consistently had low class enrolment, and it is looking at moving more courses online and increasing the number of international students.
Mandate changes accompany budget cuts
The new marching orders come on top of $147 million in post-secondary operating grant cuts announced earlier this month in the provincial budget, which are also placing financial pressure on institutions across Alberta.
U of C Students' Union president Hardave Birk said students are concerned the university will "cover their deficit on the back of students" with tuition and fee increases.
"In the immediate term it's not quite clear what's going to happen," he said.
"I know our instition has talked a little bit about some savings by looking at cutting certain programs as well as possible faculty staffing cuts, things like that could all be a possibility at the university."
Birk said the university is currently holding budget town halls, and the school has put up a budget website where students can give feedback and ideas.
"We're definitily excited to be involved in these discussions," said Birk.
Alberta's Advanced Education minister will meet with all post-secondary presidents to discuss the feedback they have received on April 11.